The Popular Vote Chronicles: Shifting on “Uncommitted”

On a conference call just now, Clinton adviser Harold Ickes articulated the campaign’s position on Michigan’s “uncommitted” delegates: Obama shouldn’t get them. Over at Politico , Avi Zenilman points out how this would hinder Obama’s attempts to win the pledged-delegate count.

But it also affects the popular-vote tally. Namely, it justifies Clinton’s declaration that she’s “winning the popular vote,” since she counts her own votes in Michigan but not “uncommitted.”

At a breakfast with reporters earlier this month, Clinton strategist Howard Wolfson reportedly suggested that they’d be willing to give Obama the “uncommitted” delegates. Yesterday we wondered why, if they were willing to give him the delegates, they were unwilling to give him the popular votes.

But today, Ickes took a harder stance: “It is presumptuous to assume that each and every one of those delegates is an Obama supporter,” he said. He described a different scenario: Rather than going to Obama, the “uncommitted” delegates would attend the August convention as just that—”uncommitted.” The campaign would then make their case to the delegates at the convention.

It’s still a stretch to say you’re winning the popular vote while counting a state where your opponent wasn’t on the ballot. But now at least the logic is internally consistent—”uncommitted” delegates shouldn’t go to Obama, nor should “uncommitted” votes.